Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

9/25/2006

The IRS v. All Saints

interior view of All Saints PasadenaOur Episcopal faith, "calls us to speak to the issues of war and poverty, bigotry, torture and all forms of terrorism… always stopping short of supporting or opposing political parties or candidates for political office." says, the Rev. Ed Bacon, Rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California. He went on to tell the L.A. Times that it was imperative to "defend the freedom of pulpits in faith communities throughout the land."

Bacon is in the hot seat with the Internal Revenue Service who are threatening to revoke his church's status as a non-profit due to what the government calls improper campaigning during teh last presidential election. Specifically at issue was a sermon by a guest preacher, the Rev. Dr. George F. Regas, who was the previous pastor of the church. Regas October 31, 2004, sermon was titled "If Jesus Debated Senator Kerry and President Bush."

The first words of that sermon were: "Jesus does win! I don't intend to tell you how to vote." And he never did tell the people in the pews how to vote. The sermon was critical of both candidates for their views on war and poverty yet the IRS noted the statements against the President as politicking on behalf of John Kerry.

the rev. Ed BaconTo read what the Rector has to say about the controversy, you can see the Adobe PDF of his sermon Neighbor Love is Never Neutral which begins,

I want to begin this sermon by once again expressing my gratitude to the Internal Revenue Service. Those brothers and sisters really know how to shine a spotlight on a church and swell the numbers of worshipers.
He went on to say,

The current administration of the IRS apparently thinks that religious organizations should stay neutral when political issues are concerned.What that thinking totally misses is that we do not have a choice about whether or not to be neutral in the face of dehumanization, injustice, and violence. Our faith mandates that always stopping short of endorsing or opposing political candidates, the church can neither be silent nor indifferent when there are public policies causing detriment to the least of these.
the pulpit at All Saints PasadenaI believe that the statements I have read from All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena are dead on accurate that the church should neither be silent in the face of injustice nor should it endorse candidates. I also believe that the IRS needs to be neutral on preaching as to take a position seems to break the barrier between church and state in a way that should concern people of any faith and any political persuasion. What do you think?

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

5 Comments:

  • At 9/25/2006 9:44 PM, Blogger Robert Christian said…

    I was always afraid the Episcopal Church was getting to be to liberal for the old traditional Episcopalians, to slanted toward the democratic party. I remember the reputation of the old Episcopal Church as one with old families with old money sipping single malt Scotch and bridge clubs. There was even a joke about using the wrong fork at dinner and going you know where since it was a sin to to be an Episcopalian and not know proper etiquette.

    Now I look at the church and I'm proud. TEC has really become a church that wants to build the Kingdom of God right here, right now. We stand up and say war is wrong, social injustice is a sin, discrimination is clearly against the teachings of the Gospel, Etc...
    I'd be proud to be a member of All Saints.

    I use to worry about people leaving because they didn't like the message but it's the message Jesus gave us, "love one another as I have loved you." What other message is there?

    Just my humble opinion

    God's Peace,
    Bob

     
  • At 9/25/2006 11:02 PM, Anonymous Debbie said…

    I believe it is wrong to try to politicize a church from either end of the political continuum. I cringe every time I hear of The Episcopal Church contributing to or participating with a political organization. My son has been studying Machiavelli's "The Prince" in World History and what I see in the church supporting organizations like NOW or the UN, for example, is very much an "end justifies the means" sort of action that degrades our citizenship in the Kingdom of God. While we all want peace, justice, etc., we have different ideas of what that looks like and how it should come to pass.

    And to be very honest, when we use the end to justify the means, it is easy to forget that our purpose is to advance the cause of Christ. Justice, Peace, and Mercy are byproducts of our lives when we serve God. We should be politically involved as individuals and live out our faith as Christ guides us, but no political party or organization is on God's side. There are good men and evil men on both sides of the equation. The Church should stand above it all and be faithful to Christ first, foremost, and always.

     
  • At 9/26/2006 7:03 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    Machiavelli's The Prince...Nothing could be further from the sermon I preached this past Sunday How to find peace and Happiness as Machiavelli wants The Prince to rule with no interest but self interest. He espoused no morality in the public sphere. For Machiavelli the only way to answer the question of whether a choice was a good or bad one was whether it served the interest of The Prince. Yes, Machiavelli would want The Prince to look out for others if it was to his own long term benefit, but I think there must be something more behind it. I think without a transcendent source (a source beyond us) to use as a norm in moral choices, rebellion will come more quickly, not less so.

    Of course, I also feel that Machiavelli was only writing the book out of self interest anyway. Far from being a detached philosophical thinker he pretends to be, Machiavelli hoped to use his book to try to wrangle a way into the inner courts of power in Medici and he was more than willing to tell The Prince to look out for his own self interest to get there. It didn't work. If this was a try out for a job it failed, as Machiavelli never got the job he seems to have been trying out for.

    Hopefully churches don't use his "the ends justify the means" approach. For our end is the Kingdom of God and the means matter. No political party is beyond the critique of the Gospel and certainly no person in power, so of course the Gospel needs to stand apart. When we get too close to the government, it can go as it did in Nazi Germany with the church providing the backing for some very unholy actions.

    peace,
    Frank+

     
  • At 9/26/2006 10:58 AM, Anonymous Kenny said…

    I think the comment from Debbie was more along the lines of watching who you choose to work with. While the goals that Bob mentioned are worthy, choosing to ally oneself with groups such as NOW (in particular) can negate the value of the gains one might make.

    There's an old saying about bad company corrupting good character and it applies in this case. Working with other groups both religious and secular is fine if you don't put the association itself ahead of the work and the values that are supposed to set you apart.

    For instance, NOW may do good work in promoting equal rights for women but they also have a reputation for promoting abortion, sameness of men and women as opposed to equality, disregard for parental rights, and an alarming choice of their own allies in political fights, particularly those that fight for acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.

    We need to remember the message to love God and our neighbors as ourselves but we also need to remember that the same Bible sets out pretty clear guidelines about right and wrong and what we should not tolerate.

    For example, we should take a lesson from Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. He loved her and accepted her but he also told her to "sin no more". There was no tolerance for wrong-doing.

     
  • At 1/11/2008 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank God for people like Rev. Ed Bacon, Rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California. Every Church and its leaders have a Constitutional right to free speech and their religion free exercise of religion. The claim that the modern-day Internal Religious Service and its System with the Internal Revenue Service and its Codes respecting an establishment of religion is a “religious legal system” has long been, and continues to be a correct and proper observation. This “religious legal system” imposes the Internal Revenue Service’s own particular brand of religion, without any regard for others own beliefs or the faiths of Christian families.

     

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